Photo/Illutration International conductor Yoichiro Omachi who died at 90 in February 2022 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Trailblazing maestro Yoichiro Omachi, the first Japanese conductor who chose opera houses in Europe as his base and who conducted both operas and orchestras, died on Feb. 18.

He was 90. His death was attributable to natural causes. His family members and relatives have already held his funeral.

Omachi was born in Tokyo in 1931. After graduating from the composition department of Tokyo University of the Arts, he studied conducting at the Vienna Academy of Music, where he was inspired by conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Karl Bohm.

In 1959, Omachi conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, before becoming a permanent conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1961.

In 1968, he was appointed permanent conductor at the City Opera House in Dortmund in West Germany, the first Japanese to do so in an opera house in Europe.

In 1980, he became the first Japanese to conduct at the Vienna State Opera, for which he worked from 1982 to 1984 under an exclusive contract. Also in 1980, he debuted in the United States by conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.

In 1995, he conducted the first performance in China of "Turandot" by Puccini.

He held many positions including head of the Japan Foundation in Cologne and professor at Tokyo University of the Arts.

He also authored books including “Classic Ongaku no Susume" (Recommending classical music).